The following is an update to the previous communication provided by Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) President and UIAA Management Committee member Françoise Jaquet.
Since March 2 and throughout the evolution of the recommendations of the Federal Council and the Federal Office of Public Health, the SAC informed regularly the section presidents and the mountain huts gardians by dedicated letters, and the SAC members by communication on our website.
On March 13 we created a crisis task force dedicated to the COVID-19 situation. Its first action was to make the recommendations to the sections to close the mountains huts and to cancel all activities. On the side of the central office, all training courses, as well as all competitions of ski-mountaineering and sport climbing, were cancelled until end of May.
On March 16, the Federal Council issued a new decree allowing no more than 5 people to meet together and forbidding outdoor activities, as well as asking people to stay at home as much as possible. This translated into the obligation to cancel all activities, and for the mountain guides to stop their work.
On March 17, the office in Bern was closed. Thereafter, the office was still working, but collaborators were working from home and came to the office on exceptional cases. The recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health on social distance and hand washing and disinfection are followed at all times.
On March 20, we made an appeal to our members and to all mountaineers to refrain from mountain activities in order to avoid unnecessary burden on rescue teams and hospitals.
Since March 17, communication between collaborators of the office, members of the board, members of the crisis task force take place by videoconference. The March Board meeting also took place by videoconference.
Thanks to all these actions and measures, the CAS contributed to the efforts of the Swiss people to reduce the propagation of the corona virus and stop the growth of the pandemic.
Slow release of confinement measures starting on May 11:
Following the communication of the Federal Council on April 29, Switzerland started a slow release of confinement measures on May 11. This means that it is possible to re-open mountain huts and to practice mountain sports, including with mountain guides.
However, this slow release is linked to many conditions:
First, all activities can start only if the usual protection measures are taken, i.e. social distancing, hand disinfection, no more than 5 people in a group, etc.
Secondly, all “branches” must write a protection concept to be reviewed by the authorities. After approval by the authorities, each individual entity must adapt this concept to its own situation.
For example, such un “umbrella concept” was developed for the mountain huts in general, but each hut will have to adapt this concept to its own situation. This concept must include all aspects of the hut, including e.g. the dormitories and the refectory. Inspectors may come and check restaurants, huts, etc. to see if their concept is OK, and if not, they will close the place.
On this basis, the SAC and its partners developed protection concepts for the mountain huts, for the mountain sport activities, and for the competition sports (in particular, sport climbing and climbing gyms for the moment).
In addition to this, the SAC issued recommendations for the practice of mountain sports, during the Covid period. These are available on its website in four languages (D, F, I, E).
A detailed overview on our actions and communication can be found on the SAC website:
The protection concepts and recommendations for the mountaineers can be found on the dedicated Covid page: